New York Times Lies About Science

In a rare infographic misstep, the New York Times published an incorrect diagram detailing the centre of the Earth.

Centre of the Earth
Centre of the Earth

Clearly, anyone who knows anything about science knows that it is not a solid core of iron at the centre of the Earth, but dinosaurs. And I see no dinosaurs in this diagram.

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum, Ritchie S. King, and Frank O’Connell.

Economic Development in Africa

This falls under the just-because-it’s-about-geographies-doesn’t-mean-it-should-necessarily-be-visualised-as-a-map category. The Guardian has taken data from the African Economic Outlook, specifically real GDP growth rates, and charted them as a map. This caught my interest initially because of some work I have been doing that required me to read a report on African economic development in coming years. So I figured this could be interesting.

African GDP growth
African GDP growth

But it’s a map. That’s not to say there is anything inherently wrong about the map. Though the arrangement of the legend and size of each ‘bin’ of percentage values is a bit odd. I would have placed the positive at the top of the list and tried to provide an equal distribution of the data, e.g. 3–10 for both positive and negative values. But, without looking in any depth at the data, the designer may have had valid reasons for such a distribution.

That said, two finer points stick out to me. The first is Western Sahara. Long story short, it is a disputed territory claimed by different factions. I am not accustomed to ever seeing any real economic data coming out of there. But, according to the map, its growth is 0–3%. When one looks at the data, however, one finds that as I would have expected the data says “no data”. Ergo the green colour on the map is misleading. Not necessarily incorrect, for the growth could have been between those two points, but without any data one cannot say for sure.

The second concern for me is South Sudan—remember that story? For starters one cannot find it on the map; South Sudanese territory is depicted as part of Sudan. While South Sudan is one of the poorest countries on the earth, its split from Sudan is rather important. Looking at the data, one can see Sudan’s growth went from 8 to 4.5 to 5 to 2.8. Why the sudden drop? Probably because Sudan’s economic boom has largely been built on the boom in oil prices over the past decade or so. But, most of that oil is no longer in Sudan, Not because its been pumped dry, but rather most of the oil fields can now be found in South Sudan.

These are some of the contextual stories that make sense of a data set. But these are the stories lost in a simple, interactive map.

Credit for the piece goes to Nick Mead.

How to Salvage a Ship

You might recall that back in January an Italian cruise ship sank after striking submerged rocks. In case you were wondering, the ship is still there. But the plan is to refloat the ship and then tow it to a harbour on the Italian mainland and scrap the ship. The Guardian put together a nice interactive infographic explaining just how the process will work.

How to salvage a ship
How to salvage a ship

Credit for the piece goes to Paddy Allen.

Congratulations, College Grads. Now Pay Up.

It’s that time of year when young men and women step outside into the big, real world and realise just how much money they owe to various creditors. Yay. The problem, however, has continued to get worse for students. This interactive infographic by the New York Times explains just how so by comparing student debt to costs.

The overall view of indebtedness
The overall view of indebtedness

While the bubble chart is also available in map form—though I don’t find that particularly useful myself—the more interesting added layer of complexity comes from the data displayed when the user selects a specific university.

Debt at Penn State, which I attended for all of two semesters
Debt at Penn State, which I attended for all of two semesters

Credit for the piece goes to Jeremy White, Andrew Martin, Andrew W. Lehren, and Archie Tse.

School Segregation in New York

This weekend the New York Times looked at segregation in New York City schools by mapping the least (and most) diverse and offering quick comparisons to other large cities. (Is it really a surprise that the country’s largest cities also would need the largest demographic shifts to create diverse education environments?) Probably the best thing, seemingly as always, in the piece is the annotations that provide stories and context and explain the outliers that are all otherwise visualised in the infographic.

School segregation in New York
School segregation in New York

Credit for the piece goes to Ford Fessenden.

Canada Invades the Land of the Mole People

Subways. Home of the mole people. And in the United States an unwanted recipient of government money to build things. Along with being generally unwanted. By those who do not live in cities. Probably because of said mole people. Or something.

But in Canada, they like subways. At least enough that Toronto is building an extension to a university and from there to a suburb. But the invasion of the mole people homeland is a complex process that, fortunately, the National Post explains in an illustrative infographic, a cropping of which is below.

One of four sibling boring machines: Holey, Moley, Yorkie, and Torkie.
One of four sibling boring machines: Holey, Moley, Yorkie, and Torkie.

Credit for the piece goes to Mike Faille and Peter Kuitenbrouwer.

The Election in the Burbs

One area of particular contention for the American presidential candidates this year will be in the suburbs of major urban areas. This was where Romney in particular was able to defeat his Republican rivals, but is also home to large number of potential Obama supporters. Given his likely support in cities, Romney will need to well in the suburbs this time around.

The Washington Post looks at how suburban counties voted over the past two elections.

Cropping of the map
Cropping of the map

Credit for the piece goes to Ted Mellnik, Laura Stanton, and Karen Yourish.

The Cities of Champions

From Slate comes an interactive map of which cities have won what championships across the big four sports (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey). It plots the championships over time and allows the user to see just how dominant certain cities have been in certain sports.

Where the winners won
Where the winners won

Credit for the piece goes to Chris Kirk.

Playing Politics

The election campaign for the presidency has begun in earnest. The President launched his official campaign over the weekend and Mitt Romney’s nomination is all but official. So what to do over the next six months? Lots of television adverts—thankfully I’m thinking of cutting my cable—and random events that shape public opinion. And, thanks to the New York Times, you can now play politics by dragging states into either the Obama camp or the Romney camp or you can read through the Times’ take on different scenarios.

Split Electoral College, my own scenario
Split Electoral College, my own scenario

Personally, I am going for the politically fascinating split electoral college route. Bonus points if you know what happens in this scenario—no cheating. And extra bonus points to the Times for splitting up the electoral votes of both Maine and Nebraska, look up what Obama did in 2008 to see how this can happen.

The Greeks Voted Sunday Too

Over at the Guardian, I was using this interactive piece from igraphics to follow the election results there. (It was a slight bit more interesting than following the French presidential election, because everybody knew Sarkozy was going to lose.)

Greek election results
Greek election results

Credit for the piece goes to igraphics, a Greek data visualisation outfit.